It’s been just six months since she took up the sport of boxing, but 24-year-old Marissa St. Catherine’s performance in the gym is already showing signs of gold medal potential. In fact, she’s currently in training as she hopes to represent Saint Lucia at the upcoming Commonwealth Games to be hosted in Birmingham, England, from July 28 to August 8 next year.
St. Catherine, a resident of the CDC in Castries, learned about the boxing gym at Vigie from a friend, and visited the gym later that week. After speaking to National Head Boxing Coach, Conrad Fredericks, she started training the following Monday.
“I joined the boxing gym in May this year because I wanted to become fit,” she said. “But I eventually began to love the sport, so I continued training and I’m getting better at it. I usually train every day after work so that I can maintain the momentum.”
While she admitted to hating the laps her coach directs her and the other boxers to run at the beginning of each practice session five days a week, she acknowledged that it’s an aspect she needs to get used to. Other than that, she loves the fact that when she puts in the work in the gym, she can recognize the results. Well, to an extent…
“I still don’t think I’m putting in enough work thus far because I’m burning out quickly,” she said, seguing into a quick laugh. “My stamina and endurance are both lacking at the moment, so I want to work on that more.”
St. Catherine attended Castries Comprehensive Secondary School, where she was more into football and basketball. Boxing was the least of her concerns or interests. Since last May, however, she’s been doing a great deal of homework and catch-up.
“My favourite boxer is Anthony Joshua, whose matches I started watching and developing a love for the sport,” St. Catherine explained. “I also like Deontay Wilder. But I do know I need to watch more matches featuring female boxers in order to gauge and learn their tactics.”
St. Catherine hardly misses training at the Vigie gym run by the St. Lucia Boxing Association (SLBA). She believes that on the road to success one must be willing to embrace and overcome challenges, big and small. Even a pandemic.
“Except for the curfew, COVID-19 hasn’t really affected my training. Of course, there are fewer hours to train, but at least I get to train. I’m even fitter now,” she said.
In a sport that has traditionally attracted more males, St. Catherine is among the few female boxers in Saint Lucia. It’s not a great feeling, she said, adding that women are a force to reckon with in any field.
“We need to have more female athletes, including boxers. I think females are more focused than males,” St. Catherine noted.
The Commonwealth Games hopeful admitted that the thought of representing Saint Lucia at the Games weighs heavily on her mind, but in a good way: “It motivates me to get better so that I can perform at my best. I’m looking forward to competing at the highest level possible. I just want to make everyone proud.”
St. Catherine said Coach Conrad has been encouraging her to keep learning the ropes of the sport. Through hard work and diligence, she intends to do just that. From setting out to become fit to becoming a fighter, the young athlete packs a powerful punch and holds her own in the squared circle. So is boxing a long-term deal for St. Catherine?
“It is,” she responds when asked the question. “I’m trying to get as much as I can from boxing, including scholarships, because I’m also hoping to further my education. I’m also hoping to win as many medals as I can. Boxing is not as hard as many people think. You get better at it every day by learning every day. You just need to start.”